9) August 18, 2005, Columbus, Ohio The band was playing a benefit gig at a local bar called Byrne's Pub. I think it was for a scholarship fund named for one of their old friends or schoolmates who had died in a car accident or something. (Yeah, I realize I should have paid more attention to details like that but in 2005 I was touring with Hamell On Trial AND Watershed, plus working a day-job between road trips, in addition to playing my own gigs and striving manfully to keep my second marriage together more successfully than my first, given the debilitating effects of the rock & roll. Sometimes I just told Biggie to let me know what time to show up for the load-in and didn't ask very many questions about the whys and wherefores.)
Byrne's Pub is an Irish bar and since the band was playing the benefit for free, management had adopted an open bar policy for the boys that night - never a good idea with Watershed. The band had already played two pretty solid sets and when a 20-minute break after the second set stretched into an hour I think everybody thought they were done for the night. Colin and Joe had pretty much stuck to their normal beer intake all evening but after the second set Byrne's bartenders had started pouring very generous shots of Irish whiskey for Pooch and Dave. After about an hour of solid (free) drinking by the band, Biggie and I started started packing up the gear and the bar owner yelled, "Hey, hey, hey, the band's supposed to play THREE sets!" We all just kinda looked at each other - Colin and Joe were tipsy but manageable, Pooch and Dave were just fucking TRASHED, there was just no two ways about it.
Colin tried to defer, to point out that the audience had somewhat thinned out but truthfully there were still a fair amount of fans there, ready & waiting for some more Watershed. The band shakily reassembled but I couldn't see how Pooch and Dave were gonna make it. They were both slurring drunk and Dave couldn't even walk straight, I had to help him up onto the drum riser. Dave - to his eternal credit - just kinda put his head down and powered through the set but Pooch was a lost cause. At one point, not more than three songs into the set, he got up on the bass drum, tried to balance on one foot and promptly fell off, crashing down with an almighty clatter of his Les Paul Junior. I started out onto the stage to help him up and Colin, who was soloing at the front, barked at me, "Take that guitar away from him and get him off the stage NOW!" I opened my mouth to say something but the normally affable-to-a-fault-even-under-the-worst-circumstances Colin was livid and I didn't even bother trying to mount a spirited or non-spirited defense of Pooch.
Pooch got unsteadily to his feet, teetering, trying to find his way back into the song and I stepped up to him and said, "Gimme the guitar, Pooch, you've gotta go off." "No, no, no, I'm okay," he tried to say, his eyes watery & unfocused behind his Buddy Holly glasses, "I'll do better." "No, off, now," I said and pulled the guitar over his head. He really couldn't put up a fight or muster much of an argument or appeal, finally just shrugged and slunk off the stage. I looked over to Guitar World where Biggie should have been to hand Pooch's guitar to him, but Biggie was nowhere to be found. My lovely wife Debbie was standing there, however, wide-eyed at Pooch getting sent off. I yelled, "Take this," reaching over the amps to hand her the Les Paul. Debbie had some experience handling guitars - I was constantly leaving my acoustics lying around the house - but I failed to warn her that the Les Paul weighed about 20 pounds more than my Alvarez. In my haste to get Pooch off the stage I had also forgotten to unplug it or turn it down, so when it went right through Debbie's hands and crashed to the floor there was another unholy din, prompting Colin to glare back over his shoulder at me, staring daggers.
I yanked the cord out as Debbie stammered out an apology (all my fault, I told her, all my fault) and squeezed between the sidewashed amps to get off that misbegotten stage. I can't remember how many more songs Watershed played as a trio that night, but I don't think I've ever been gladder to see a show end.
10) July 9, 2005, Orlando, Florida Watershed was the middle act of a three-band bill in Orlando - home of Disney World and possibly the whitest-bread city I have ever set foot in. It's like the entire city is an artificial extension of the make-believe fairy tale ambiance of the amusement park. Top of the bill was a cute, young, unnaturally perky blonde girl who had just been 86'd off of American Idol and was - if the daily newspaper and the local entertainment weekly were to be believed - the toast of Orlando. Watershed didn't get a soundcheck (that was reserved for headliner-girl and came back to enormously bite her in the ass) but the evening got off to a promising start when - while conducting a line-check of the instruments after the first band finished their set - Biggie (playing drums) and myself (playing guitar & singing) made a song up on the spot about Watershed and how good they are and got a ringing round of applause from the audience.
Colin totally psyched himself up against American Idol girl in particular and the Orlando experience in general and Watershed delivered one of those sets that DEFINES what rock & roll is all about. They generally kicked ass, took names, maimed, dismembered and demolished the audience. Those were the days when Watershed sets ended with drummer Dave Masica climbing over his kit to leap backwards off the bass drum for one final cymbal smash. Colin sent Dave back not once, but twice from his perch on the bass drum before Dave's set-ending leap as the band extended the "Black Concert T-Shirt" finale to purvey more rock & roll demolition.
The Orlando crowd was pretty wrung out by the time headliner-girl's band took the stage and started into the first tune to set up Perky Blonde Girl's big entrance. As a roadie, the total equipment meltdown that befell that band's opener and completely derailed the lead singer's moment in the sun simultaneously frightened and amused me; frightened me because it could have happened to us and amused me because it DIDN'T happen to us. Things started out okay as the bass player & drummer kicked off the tune but at the first guitar chords - just as the lead singer strode onto the stage tossing her mane of blonde curls - one guitar blasted monstrous, truly deafening feedback through the club and the other guitar didn't function period.
Lead singer girl just stood there stranded, unable to begin the song for fully two or three minutes as the audience stood wincing with their hands over their ears and the sound guys tried desperately to stop the noise. Finally she just gave up and retreated to the side of the stage while the gear gaff got sorted out. The band had now stopped playing entirely and everybody was just standing around bewildered & fidgety as stage techs ran around unplugging & replugging things, trying to fix the PA. The girl was close to tears, standing on the side of the stage. I genuinely felt bad for her as I wandered over to where Joe was standing, sipping a beer, surveying the carnage. "I don't think that was the beginning they were looking for," I casually mentioned, triggering an actual spit-take from Joe. I think beer actually came out his nose.
Two songs later, after the set finally got relaunched, lead singer girl - while serenading the crowd down front - fell off the stage and SCREAMED into the microphone as she tumbled to the sticky dance floor. I am certain that band had played better sets.
Later in the night Joe ran afoul of Florida's rather restrictive underage drinking laws while buying drinks for "friends" of the band and Pooch threw up IN THE BAR. It was only the second night of the tour, I was feeling pretty good.
© 2013 Ricki C.